The Urban DINK: 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300
This is what this column is all about. The new Mercedes-Benz C300 came into the fleet, and guess who got the first night alone with this bad boy? That’s right, the DINK. Mike Hanley actually got more time with it and wrote the full review on the C300, and I think overall his points on the driving feel are dead-on. What I found fault with in the review was the fact that there was no mention that this is the perfect car for an Urban DINK.
Now, to be sure, our full-length car reviews are supposed to address the broadest audience, which is why Suburban Dad, Weekend Athlete and Urban Dink exist on this blog. The C300 has a lot going for it, Dink or no. It has a low starting price — less than the Lexus ES 350, Acura TL, BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G35. Plus it has a decent list of standard features.
The test car had a lot of options, though, like a slick navigations system, a superb surround-sound stereo system, a double-paned sunroof and an iPod adapter in the glove box. I thought the interior was very well done, with Mercedes continuing to stun with its gauge design. The leather on the seats was nice to the touch, but they sure were firm. My only major beef with the inside of the C300 was the plastic shift knob.
Plastic? In an otherwise well-executed interior, this one piece of plastic cheapens everything that surrounds it. If I were a Mercedes dealer, I would order a boatload of leather shift knobs. It could seal the deal for me.
Most importantly, though, for the Urban Dink, the C300 Sport looks terrific. Even in the boring beige color I tested, the slick grille and mini-S-Class looks garnered stares. I take that back; it wasn’t just stares. One suited passerby had to turn his head the whole way around as he walked by to soak in the C-Class’ front end. It was as if I were driving a Maxim model. For the record, that never happens in a 3 Series.
As for the performance, I thought the C300, which features the base engine, was definitely adequate in the power and performance department. It wouldn’t break any speed trials, but it was as engaging to drive, if not more so, than the Lexus, Acura or BMW 328. Only the new G35 really outperforms it for a similar price, but BMW still rules the roost overall with the more expensive 335i. I still haven't tested the C350 to see how it compares.
Mercedes has figured out the right mix of style and substance with the new C300. I would still pick the 335i right now, simply because of that engine, but I wouldn’t look down at a guy driving a C-Class anymore.
If you want to check out more shots of the new C300, check out our photo gallery shot by new Cars.com photographer Ian Merritt.